Feb. 25, 2015

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Advocates to lawmakers: Protect, fund SUNY hospitals

uupdate 2-25-15

Downstate Chapter President Rowena Blackman-Stroud asks Assemblywoman Annette Robinson (D-Brooklyn) to help keep SUNY Downstate Medical Center public.

Blackman-Stroud, UUP’s statewide treasurer, was joined by fellow Downstate Chapter members, from left, Abe Gerecht, Zengxiu Liu, Lianfu Yang, Pervez Mirza and Oneonta Chapter member Kyle Britton. They were some of the more than two dozen UUP members at HSC Advocacy Day, Feb. 25 in Albany.

They expressed concern that $700 million for a new hospital in Brooklyn would not be enough to complete the project. Private companies would be looked to for the remainder of the funding.

“Private equity would be needed, meaning the new hospital would not be accessible to everyone like a public hospital is,” Blackman-Stroud said.

In his Executive Budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed $700 million in capital funds for health care in Kings County; those dollars could be spent to build a new Brooklyn hospital.

Blackman-Stroud and other UUP advocates said the money should be used to bolster outpatient services at Downstate and other Brooklyn hospitals. Statewide VPA Jamie Dangler and Secretary Eileen Landy also took part in HSC Advocacy Day.

UUPers also criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to give the state health commissioner discretion over how the money is spent— without competitive bidding or oversight.

Upstate Medical University Chapter President Mike Lyon, left, said the Syracuse hospital could use some of the $700 million set aside for Kings County.

“Some of our buildings were constructed in the 1930s,” he said during a meeting in the office of Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury). “Our infrastructure is failing.” Lyon was joined by fellow Upstate Chapter members Dave Peckham and Bob Fluck.

Advocates also called for restoration of the state hospital subsidy to its 2010 level of $128 million. The subsidy has been cut in half since Gov. Cuomo took office. His proposed budget would decrease the subsidy by 22 percent, to $69 million.

“Stony Brook Hospital is an economic engine,” Stony Brook HSC Chapter President Carol Gizzi told an aide to Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville). “If you diminish its funding, you diminish the economy.”

UUPers urged lawmakers to reject Article VII language in the governor’s proposed budget that would open the door to the privatization of SUNY’s hospitals by allowing private corporations to affiliate and operate hospitals.

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